quinoa stuffed cabbage- a gluten free galumpki

stuffed cabbage, galumpki

I love putting quinoa in unexpected places. If I put it out somewhere expected, like in a bowl on the dinner table, no one would eat it. Myself included. But here, the quinoa blends seamlessly into the salty sausage, caramelized onions and it just loves being all snuggled up in a warm blanket of cabbage leaves.

I know, some folks still aren’t on the quinoa train, but this dish is sure to convert them. It even got the thumbs up from my inked up ex-marine brother who seldom strays from cheese steaks and meatballs. And he is way too cool to give an actual thumbs up.  It was more like “This is good”.

I interpreted this as an enthusiastic thumbs up.

stuffed cabbage-Easter


Disclosure this is yet another one of my grandfather’s traditional Polish dishes that I have successfully butchered and healthified.


1 pound sausage, casings removed

1 cup cooked quinoa (about ½ cup uncooked)

1 cup chopped onions (1-2 small onions or one large onion)

1 head of cabbage, about 3 pounds

1 cup tomato sauce


Trim the stump off of the cabbage. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. During a full boil, add the entire head of cabbage and boil, rotating if necessary, until the leaves begin to loosen and fall off. This will take approximately 6-8 minutes. Using a  large slotted spoon, carefully remove the head of cabbage. Allow to cool while you prepare the sausage. Begin cooking the sausage in a hot skillet.  When evenly browned, remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spatula. Add the diced onions to the pan. Fry the onions in the sausage fat. (If you are hesitant to fry things in pork fat, feel free to wipe the pan out and cook the onions in olive oil)

When the onions are fragrant and nicely browned, add the sausage back into the pan along with cooked quinoa. Gently heat and mix all ingredients together. Season with black pepper or any herbs you may have on hand.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Once the cabbage leaves are cooled, begin by laying a large leaf out and slicing out just the hard white core in the center. Scoop some of the sausage-quinoa mixture in the center of the cabbage leaf and roll it up like a burrito. Repeat for the remaining cabbage leaves.

Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a casserole pan and arrange the cabbage rolls on top. Any extra cabbage leaves can be layered on top of the rolls. Bake for 20 minutes.

Serve with additional tomato sauce.

stuffed cabbage-Easter (2 of 1)


loaded veggie calzone

veggie calzone (3 of 1)

If I was going to write sarcastic e-cards on Facebook, here are some examples of what they would say:

  • I love when I can see the smile lines on my cheeks even when I am not smiling. Said no one ever.
  • I love when my child has a diaper blow out in the middle of the grocery store and a substantial amount of poop ends up on my sleeve. Said no one ever.
  • I love when I order a veggie calzone from a pizza shop and there are only faint signs of vegetable existence buried in a mound of cheese and dough. Said no one ever.

(Ok, so they need some work. Sarcasm is not my strong suit)

veggie calzone (1 of 1)

I think pizza shops put veggie calzones on the menu, but they don’t ever expect anyone to order it because if you’re ordering from a pizza shop, you are probably not really concerned with your vegetable intake in that particular meal. Or maybe they consider the tomato sauce to be a vegetable?  Either way, I am concerned with my vegetable intake, and I want veggies in my calzone. But I ‘m not gonna make a fuss about it. I’m just going to make my own.

veggie calzone

And here it is… it’s a medley of unpretentious and fragrant vegetables like marinated artichokes, garlicky sautéed spinach and meaty mushrooms. All finished with a generous sprinkle of crushed red pepper and tomato sauce.

Loaded Veggie Calzone

1 pound of fresh pizza dough

Olive oil

1 bag of baby spinach

1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms

1 cup diced peppers

3 cloves of garlic, minced

½ cup chopped marinated artichokes

Tomato sauce for dipping

1 cup shredded mozzarella, Parmesan or provolone

1 egg, beaten

Bring the dough to room temperature and set out on a floured work surface. Cut the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll the dough out into a flat disc and place on a greased baking sheet.

Prepare the veggies:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, and add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute and add the peppers. Add the mushrooms and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the spinach on top of the veggies and gently wilt.

Fill one side of the calzone dough with the sautéed veggies and fold over. Using a fork, press down on the edges to seal the dough pocket. Poke a few holes in the top to allow steam to escape, and using a pastry brush; brush the top with the egg wash.

You will probably have some extra veggies that didn’t fit into the calzones. But this is good, because you can eat them alongside your calzone. Honestly, why don’t pizza shops do that?

dandelion salad with shrimp and bacon

dandelion salad with shrimp and bacon


Have you tried dandelions yet?

So my sweet aging Italian neighbor talks tirelessly about how she was soooo poor growing up in South Philly that  she and her sister collected dandelion greens from the backyard to be served up for dinner.

In South Philly.

These things were probably peeking out from a slab of concrete, and this resourceful family, among many other families, made the best of what they had and ate them.

Free salad and no toxic weed chemicals on the lawn!! I’m in!

Ok, so full disclosure, I bought these at the market. It’s winter here in the northeast. Not even a dandelion could stand this kind of cold. But if you are an experienced-dandelion picker, I would love to hear your stories.

Dandelion salad with shrimp and bacon

I eat this salad as is, but could also be served over linguine (similar to scampi) for a heartier meal.

When picking dandelions at the store or off the curb; look for small, tender leaves. The bigger they are, the more bitter they will be. If you do wind up with bitter leaves, just blanch them in a pot of boiling water.


4-6 cups of dandelion greens, washed thoroughly

1 pound medium – large shrimp, cooked

4 slices good quality bacon


In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and drop the dandelion greens into the pan of bacon drippings and toss gently. Remove from pan and crumble the bacon on the greens and top with shrimp.

For bitter greens: Boil a pot of water. Drop the dandelions into the boiling water for about 30 seconds. Remove the greens from the water and place directly into the pan of bacon drippings. Follow recipe as above.


pizza napoletana with fresh arugula

pizza napoletana with fresh arugula

pizza napolentana with arugula

pizza napolentana with arugula


This is the real deal. Pizza Napolentana is the holy grail of pizza; the purest, most celebrated pizza in the world. Pizza tends to get lumped into the junk-food/ take out category, and most of it deserves to be there, but not this one. And although the ingredients seem like a bit of a splurge, with the San Marzano tomatoes weighing it at almost 4 dollars a can, you can make this up for not much more than you would spend on your take out order.

dough (1 of 1)

I do recommend patience and a glass of wine. Especially if you are like me and you let your kid’s help you make it. You know, in case a handful of flour ends up on the floor or dough ends up in someone’s hair.

making pizza with kids

Which it inevitably will.

But you won’t care because you’re drinking wine and eating great pizza!!

pizza (1 of 1)

Pizza Napolentana with Fresh Arugula

True Nepalese pizza has a thin, crispy exterior with a light but chewy interior, all while maintaining enough crust strength to hold the medley of rich creamy buffalo mozzarella and bittersweet San Marzano tomatoes.

You can sub in cow’s milk if you can’t find buffalo mozzarella, but the San Marzano tomatoes are what make this really great, and without them you just have ordinary pizza. I sprinkle a few handfuls of this casually dressed arugula salad on top instead of the traditional fresh basil because my kids love it.

If a kid asks for salad on top of their pizza, who am I to say no?


1 pound of pizza dough

8 oz. of fresh mozzarella

1 16 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes (you will only need about half of the can)

Arugula Salad

5 oz. arugula, washed and dried

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shaved

Salt and pepper

Whisk olive oil into lemon juice until emulsified. Add parmesan cheese and toss with arugula. Set aside.

Directions for the Pizza

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Bring the dough to room temp. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out thin as thin as you can and lay it out on a pizza stone. Using your hands or a pastry brush, brush a thin coating of olive oil on the surface of the dough. Bake for 3-4 minutes, until the dough has set, but not browned at all.

Remove the crust and switch the oven to the broil setting.

On the hot crust, add the tomatoes and then layer on a few slices of mozzarella. Broil until the cheese becomes slightly golden and begins to bubble, about 4 minutes (Watch very carefully, as oven temps vary greatly) Remove from oven and finish with salt, pepper and brush the crust with olive oil. Top with a handful of arugula salad.

Remember to turn the oven back to the 450 degree bake setting to make the next pizza.




clementine vinaigrette and upcycling the crates

clementine vinagrette 3 (1 of 1)

Clementine peeling is an Olympic sport in my house. I don’t like to brag, but I can peel 10, maybe 12 clementines in 4 minutes flat. And the kids eat them just as fast as I can peel them, leaving me lucky if I manage to nab a few slices for myself. So I stashed a few away to make this sweet-savory clementine vinaigrette. It is light and clean and can dress a simple harvest salad or grace the top of a grilled fish fillet.

clementine vinagrette 2 (1 of 1)


If you are an avid clementine consumer, I’m sure you have a secret stash of clementine crates piling up in a closet somewhere. I painted mine with a distresses style and organized all my doo-dads throughout the house. Here’s a painting kit, complete with a glass water jar, smock, paints, and brushes.

clementine crate 2 (1 of 1)

clementine crate (1 of 1)

Clementine Vinaigrette

2 clementines, peeled

2 tsp. finely diced shallot

1 tsp. honey or simple syrup

1 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice the clementines in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk in the diced shallots and honey. Slowly stream in the olive oil and continue whisking. Salt and pepper to taste.

the prettiest pureed vegetable soup

winter soup (1 of 1)

I just know you have a collection of tubers lying around in your pantry, right? A random rutabaga or a bunch of turnips that you bought just because they were the most perfect shade of purple.

You do buy produce because it’s pretty, right?


rosemary2 (1 of 1)

If you don’t buy a parsnip for its killer good looks, then it must be because of those tiny little produce description tags… Oh, wow these parsnips are sweet and nutty!?

Sweet and Nutty… like a snickers?!  I’ll take it!

root vegetable soup (1 of 1)

Then you get them home and wonder what in the world you are going to do with these sweet and nutty vegetables.

Here’s what to do.

Make this soup. It has an enchanting arrangement of complex flavor profiles and finishes off with a few kicks of cayenne. Many other soups of this type finish with cream, but there is enough happening here that you won’t even miss it.

Winter Root Soup

Makes about 8-10 servings

The great thing about this soup is that it is completely adaptable to whatever kind of root vegetables you have on hand.


4 Tablespoons olive oil

1 cup onions, chopped

1 cup carrots, diced

4 cups celery root, diced (or 1 head of diced celery)

1 ½ cups turnips, diced

1 ½ cups parsnips, diced

1 cup rutabaga, diced

1 cup potatoes, diced

1 cup white wine

3 quarts vegetable or chicken stock

1 Tablespoon Rosemary

3 bay leaves

Cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

optional- a few sliced of stale Italian bread


Heat 4 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large stock pot and add onions. Cook until lightly browned. Add the diced root vegetables. Cook several minutes, until softened. Add the white wine and cook down until the liquid is reduced by half. Add stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer and add a few sliced of stale bread to thicken, if needed. Season with salt, pepper, rosemary and cayenne pepper.

Puree until smooth.

*If you are using celery, add the bread. If you are using celery root, you may not need to add the bread.

Boardwalk Fries with Cheesy Spinach Sauce

boardwalk fries with cheese sauce

This is nostalgia served with a swirl of spinach. Boardwalk fries are nothing short of a sharable paper cup of comfort.  Imagine your sand sprinkled toes propped up on a bench, watching all the colorful chaos scurry by as you sit back and savor a salty serving of crispy French fries.

boardwalk fries

I’ll take the beach frizzed hair; crispy sun burned shoulders and splintered toes to be back on the Boardwalk for a night, to feel the goose bump inducing evening ocean breeze and share a bucket of hot fries with good friends.

boardwalk fries with cheese sauce

Only Mother Nature can bring us the ocean breeze, but I bring along a lighter, brighter version of this Boardwalk staple. These fries are not actually fried at all, but they do have a crispy oven baked exterior, and when drizzled with this sharp homemade cheddar cheese sauce and laced with fresh spinach, they are transformed into a wholesome savory snack, vegetarian lunch or versatile dinner side dish.

homemade french fries with homemade cheese sauce

Boardwalk Fries with Homemade Cheese Sauce and Spinach

I can see these being served as a non-traditional appetizer for a cozy casual New Year’s get together.

Makes approximately 4-6 servings


4 baking potatoes, (skin on) washed and scrubbed

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1.5 cups milk

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons flour

1 tsp mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

1.5 – 2 cups loosely packed spinach, rinsed and roughly chopped


Preheat oven to 425.

Slice potatoes into long thin strips. Place in a colander and rinse with very cold water. Lay potatoes out onto a towel and pat dry. (*The cold water rinse helps maintain that crispy skin and soft potato center*

Spread the potatoes out onto a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat all the fries and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.

Warm the milk in the microwave, just to take the chill off. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter. Whisk the mixture and cook over medium until it turns a medium –dark brown color. Add the warmed milk, a little at a time, and continue whisking until it starts to thicken and look saucy. Whisk in the mustard.

Remove from the heat and add the shredded cheese. The cheese will gradually melt. When cheese in melted, and the potatoes are ready to serve, warm the cheese sauce up slightly and drop in the spinach. Stir gently, until the spinach wilts into the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.

Any leftover cheddar sauce can be served over rice, broccoli or other veggies.